Georgia’s Election Law, and Why Turnout Isn’t Easy to Turn Off

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Making voting convenient doesn’t necessarily translate into more votes, research shows.

From The New York Times:

There’s nothing unusual about exaggeration in politics. But when it comes to the debate over voting rights, something more than exaggeration is going on.

There’s a real — and bipartisan — misunderstanding about whether making it easier or harder to vote, especially by mail, has a significant effect on turnout or electoral outcomes. The evidence suggests it does not.

The fight over the new Georgia election law is only the latest example. That law, passed last week, has been condemned by Democrats as voter suppression, or even as tantamount to Jim Crow.

Democrats are understandably concerned about a provision that empowers the Republican-controlled State Legislature to play a larger role in election administration. That provision has uncertain but potentially substantial effects, depending on what the Legislature might do in the future. And it’s possible the law is intended to do exactly what progressives fear: reshape the electorate to the advantage of Republicans, soon after an electoral defeat, by making it harder to vote.

And yet the law’s voting provisions are unlikely to significantly affect turnout or Democratic chances. It could plausibly even increase turnout. In the final account, it will probably be hard to say whether it had any effect on turnout at all.

Read the full story here >>

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Democrats Splinter Over Strategy for Pushing Through Voting Rights Bill

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President Biden and leading congressional Democrats have made the far-reaching bill a top priority, but some proponents believe it needs major changes.

From The New York Times:

Democrats in Congress are quietly splintering over how to handle the expansive voting rights bill that they have made a centerpiece of their ambitious legislative agenda, potentially jeopardizing their chances of countering a Republican drive to restrict ballot access in states across the country.

President Biden and leading Democrats have pledged to make the elections overhaul a top priority, even contemplating a bid to upend bedrock Senate rules if necessary to push it through over Republican objections. But they are contending with an undercurrent of reservations in their ranks over how aggressively to try to revamp the nation’s elections and whether, in their zeal to beat back new Republican ballot restrictions moving through the states, their proposed solution might backfire, sowing voting confusion and new political challenges.

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In Statehouses, Stolen-Election Myth Fuels a G.O.P. Drive to Rewrite Rules

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Republican legislators want big changes to the laws for elections and other aspects of governance. A fight over the ground rules for voting may follow.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Led by loyalists who embrace former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election, Republicans in state legislatures nationwide are mounting extraordinary efforts to change the rules of voting and representation — and enhance their own political clout.

At the top of those efforts is a slew of bills raising new barriers to casting votes, particularly the mail ballots that Democrats flocked to in the 2020 election. But other measures go well beyond that, including tweaking Electoral College and judicial election rules for the benefit of Republicans; clamping down on citizen-led ballot initiatives; and outlawing private donations that provide resources for administering elections, which were crucial to the smooth November vote.

And although the decennial redrawing of political maps has been pushed to the fall because of delays in delivering 2020 census totals, there are already signs of an aggressive drive to further gerrymander political districts, particularly in states under complete Republican control.

The national Republican Party joined the movement this past week by setting up a Committee on Election Integrity to scrutinize state election laws, echoing similar moves by Republicans in a number of state legislatures.

Republicans have long thought — sometimes quietly, occasionally out loud — that large turnouts, particularly in urban areas, favor Democrats, and that Republicans benefit when fewer people vote. But politicians and scholars alike say that this moment feels like a dangerous plunge into uncharted waters.

Read the full story here.

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